A Scene from Hassan’s

This part came from a case of “what would this character really do?” applied to Uncle. In all prior versions of Necropolis by Moonlight Alex came in upon a similar scene. Hassan’s first impression of Jake has always been to try to kill him. How do you put a stop to a scene like that?

The door rattled, but refused to open. Alex slipped around back through a narrow alley, between blackened fire escapes and dented trash cans. A metal clothes line stretched overhead between two high windows. She reached up then crouched, muscles bunching as she gathered enough energy to leap . She caught the lowest rung and pulled, straining to find purchase with chest and legs. First one foot and then the other moved under her. Now balanced on the thin bar, she clamored up the ladder to the apartment on the top floor.

The fire escape window opened on the landing outside of the apartment door. A wooden stairway descended steep and long between two walls so narrow that Alex could not have held both arms straight out from the shoulder.

The crash of falling body and the sparkling sound of breaking glass came from the shop below. Alex broke into a run. She almost tumbled down the last flight of stairs. The curtain of blue faience beads scattered as she slammed through it. One of the matching resin statues rocked on it’s base. She caught the steel and bronze spear and pulled it free from the pharaoh’s hands.

Four men held Jake on a low table top. A length of rope pulled his chin back to expose his bared neck. Hassan drew a long, curved sword from its leather wrap.

“Uncle, no!” she shouted.

He ignored her. The blade rose high above Jake’s neck.

Her mind froze for a millisecond. Gold light trickled down the clean edge like new honey. It was sharp enough for shaving and would slice through anything it touched like deli meat.

They moved simultaneously. The sword curved down as she lunged forward. She caught the blade below the spear point, shuddering at the power behind his blow.

He pulled back and spun. The blade shimmered in the light. She held herself straight and still. The blood drained from Hassan’s face. The sword stopped just as the curved edge broke the skin of her throat. She fell back a few steps.

“This man is my body guard,” she said. She wiped at the shallow, nothing wound.

“What you can pay, another can match. He is an assassin, hired to kill you. All of Cairo is talking about it.”

“All of Cairo is wrong. He is the Englishman’s son.”

Hassan made a sound that may have been a laugh. “You think that matters?”

“No, I don’t. This does. He is my lover.”

The sword came up again.“TEXT DELETED Due to Language” She flinched, more from the words he hurled at her than from the threat of the gleaming blade. He flung the sword across the room and folded her in his arms. Alex felt as if an angry storm had broken over her head. Frowning, he let her go. “You lied to me.”

“A long time ago. I’m not lying now. Tell the men to let him go.”

“He will kill you. Everyone says.”

“Everyone is wrong. There is only one thing that man wants from me and it isn’t my death.”

“Loosen the rope. Let him speak for himself.”

Jake drew a long, gasping breath that ended in a coughing fit.

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